This past week we watched all 7 films to prepare for the finale. A few comments...
Those kids have certainly learned how to act. In the early films they were adorable but not quite ready for prime time. But by part 3 they all figured it out and the movies got much better as a result.
The effects have obviously gotten better over 10 years. So have the beauty shots of Hogwarts. In episode 1 we had a pretty poor matte painting. By part 4 we were flying through windows.
Some of the supporting characters are quite enjoyable and help to take the edge off of the seriousness of all the main players. Luna Lovegood and the elder Weasley boys really personify the written characters.
We did find Deathly Hallows Pt 1 somewhat slow and boring in parts but it picked up speed in the end. Not remembering much of the book means I don't know what the finale holds in store (obviously I know what happens but not in detail.)
It has been a fun journey and unprecedented in movie history to have the same actors in an 8 part film series telling one long story.
I thought films 3, 4, and 5 were the best in the series for sure. But early buzz is indicating the last one is going to blow everything out of the water.
I initially didn't care for the first 2 movies when I first saw them, but as the series got better, I went back and watched the first two again, and gained new appreciation for them. Even with a bunch of different directors the series stays pretty continuous and fluid with each other, which is pretty cool.
I also had some slight distaste for Deathly Hallows pt. 1, also found it boring in parts, but I think splitting it up was probably a good idea. Because now instead of a huge, bloated work that's back heavy, we just have the part 1 mediocrity in one area, and will have the part 2 brilliance in another.
I thought the first one in particular was pretty magical in its own way. It really captured the essence of a book I enjoyed immensely, which is always an added bonus, but admittedly, its charms were aimed at young fans.
But the first movie to be a really good movie on its own was the third. Alfonso Cuaron made a HUGE difference in shifting from "nice movie for tweens that adults will also like" to "something that anyone might enjoy if they're in the mood." It was also the first where you needn't have read the books to get the most out of it.
Maybe its because I'm a fan, but I thought that #7 was a gas. My wife and I went to a midnight show opening day, and there were dozens of people in costume. One of those deals where the first cheer went up for the studio logo. It was great. It was also the only movie I can think of in years where I never checked the time. It flew by. I could have used another half-hour, even knowing that part 2 was coming.
I know that this was shared by the crowd, many of whom yelled "Noooooo!!!!" at the end. One kid jumped to his feet and yelled "OMG!!!" No kidding. Yelled the letters, not the words. Got a laugh, but I had already turned to my wife and said, "Holy sht" (I included the vowel), to which she said, "I know! I can't believe it ended." And she's FAR less patient than I am. She leaves early from easily half the movies we go to. I just build that into my plans for the day.
So, I'm definitely advising to see it in a theater, and time it so that the place is as packed as it can be.
As a couple of 50 year olds, we've been twitching for months. Yes, already have our reserved seats for the midnight show in 3D. Before we found this place with reserved seats, we'd already bought folding chairs so we could comfortably wait in line most of the day. Two hours in advance last time, and I think we got the last two seats together. No way we were going to let that happen again.
Even though I wouldn't consider NOT seeing it in 3D, I'm trending neutral on 3D right now. I really loved the 3D at the beginning of the sixth movie. It was only for the first 20 minutes, and it left me wanting more, for sure....but I'm finding it a drag how conservative filmmakers are being. I am despairing of 3D movies being made for people who hate 3D, instead of people who want it. There are 2D showings for haters. You'll never be able to convert them, but you CAN deflate the enthusiasm of 3D enthusiasts, and I'm watching it happen.
I am officially on the record, then: this is war between wizards, real live good vs. evil, and I want stuff coming out of the screen, dammit. We'll see.
But to call this my most anticipated movie of 2011 is an understatement.
Saw the final movie in IMAX 3D yesterday. Wow, what a movie. They made the most of the 2+ hours. Other movies, fantasy or not, can take a clue from the Harry Potter series, especially the more recent ones. I have nothing bad to say here. Having read all the books and seen all the movies it was well done indeed. Most of the characters took a back seat to their usual roles, but this was all about Potter meeting his destiny. Even Hermione, who is usually the know-it-all, seems to sit this one out. The epilogue was not really needed in the book or the movie, but perhaps it was seen as a way to simply show that the world gets back to normal and everyone lives out their lives in happiness.
I do wish more films were shown in IMAX and that they did not cost $14.75. Oh well.